Kelvin Gastelum may have been out-fought for five rounds in the UFC Vegas 24 main event, but his efforts — stepping up and saving the card on short notice — did not go unnoticed.
Or unrewarded, as it turns out. Following Robert Whittaker’s five-rounded dominant performance, the pair were awarded Fight of the Night at the ESPN card. Whittaker, who rocked Gastelum early with a high kick and never stepped off the gas, earned his third straight victory Saturday, which should put him in a prime position to rematch Israel Adesanya for the middleweight title.
Whittaker (23-5), age 30, has arguably never looked better. Which makes as rematch with Adesanya, who took his title in October 2019 at UFC 243, all the more tantalizing.
Performance of the Night bonuses at UFC Vegas 24 went to a pair of preliminary card fighters. Tony Gravely, who opened up the event, earned one, for his knockout of Anthony Birchak. Bantamweight Gravely started strong, dropped Birchak in the first round, coming close to a finish within the first five minutes. A gusty Birchak survived, but was dropped again in the second, signalling the end.
The other Performance bonus went to Gerald Meerschaert, who snapped a two-fight skid and bounced back from a rough loss to Khamzat Chimaev by choking out Bartosz Fabiniski, setting a middleweight record for submissions in the process.
All four bonus-winning fighters pick up an extra $50,000 for their efforts.